Saturday, April 21, 2012
Spraynard have recently put out a new 4-song record on Asian Man Records titled 'Exton Square’. If you’re a repeat offender when it comes to the Idle and the Bear website, then you’re probably familiar with my review of the previous Spraynard record ‘Funtitled’, and therefore you’re familiar with the whole “this band sounds like Latterman” stuff. I mean...it was absolutely inescapable. That comparison had to be made, and so it was made by tons of people. The thing I can most easily say about ‘Exton Square’ would have to be that if I had heard this record first, rather than ‘Funtitled', I probably never would’ve said anything about how much the band owes their sound to Latterman or whatever, because I feel as though this new album kind of defines Spraynard’s unique sound and gives us a bit of a notion of how quickly this band develops and progresses their music. I guess this kind of makes this album a crucial part of any solid pop punk album collection, then. Right?
The album starts off with “Can I Borrow a Feeling?”, which is a song that seems absolutely focused on the idea of a cathartic build up being the perfect way to start an album. They’re totally right about this...at least if they were aiming to please me. I’m sure they weren’t, because that’d be pretty foolish. I’m easy to please and my opinion isn’t worth a damn. But if you do think my opinion is worth a damn, you should probably already have this album in your shopping cart over at the Asian Man Records webstore.
Regardless, the album starts off pretty soft and whatnot, and then we’re figuratively slapped in the face with the song “You Can’t Get There From Here”. The intensity of the vocals has kind of gone down a bit since ‘Funtitled’, but it’s definitely an improvement in my opinion. Spraynard’s vocals are excellent and don’t really need the extra gruffness to get their point across. This album gives me the impression that they’ve listened to quite a bit of Harvey Danger. Am I wrong? I don’t think I’m wrong. I could be, though. They could just have the same influences as Harvey Danger. Oh yeah, the second song definitely starts sounding like they’ve listened to a lot of Latterman about halfway in...but I guess it’s kind of unavoidable. Your influences have to be displayed somewhere when you’re standing on the shoulders of giants; that’s just science, Gunther.
Okay, so this album sounds great from start to finish, and that’s a pretty solid reason to get into the band Spraynard. I also had the privilege of seeing them play in Philadelphia at the First Unitarian Church with Classics of Live, BTMI, Captain We’re Sinking, and Mike Park not long ago and I can honestly say that you’d enjoy seeing them live...whoever this is that I’m addressing right here. Why do I write reviews in such a fucking weird fashion?
Okay so, I already posted the link to Asian Man at some point in this review, and that’s really all you need. It’s five dollars and you can totally buy Lawrence Arms shit while you’re already on the website. So I don’t get why you haven’t done so yet.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Tall Tales are a new Cincinnati pop-punk band who have just released their debut EP, finally. I say finally because I've been kind of waiting for it to be finished for quite some time now. I guess at least 99% of you won't really be able to relate the "finally" part. Well, actually, after you listen to the EP, you might be thinking, "FINALLY!", despite not even knowing about the band or album until the release of 'An Introduction To". This phenomenon could easily be chalked up to how great all four songs on this release are. And it's pretty much dire you listen to them as soon as possible. Which honestly shouldn't be too hard for you to pull off, because you can either stream it for download it from the Tall Tales bandcamp page.
If you're wanting some sort of RIYL for Tall Tales, bands like Saves the Day, Grown Ups, and I guess you could kind of take a brocore band like Man Overboard and remove all the cheesy lyrics, faux excursions into hardcore punk, and throw in better vocalists (because Zach and Brian are awesome behind the microphone. Especially when they're singing different shit at the same time, like in the song "Male Fraud") and add the cynicism and flavor of Cincinnati (I'm not talking about Gold Star, either). This DIY EP, recorded by the band on their own, is loaded with four really catchy songs that do those of us who have heard The Copyrights more than enough times the favor of mixing it up a little bit, whether you're focusing on the more intuitive leads or the fact that the songs aren't four chords repeating. Not that I don't love that brand of pop punk just the same. People just get burnt out and need something like Tall Tales to even them out. It's just science.
Okay, well you have the bandcamp page. You have the strong recommendation of Idle and the Bear, and you have the fingers required to facilitate the commencement of this music entering your ears (assuming you were born with fingers and have not yet lost them). And hey, if you end up not really digging Tall Tales, you can use those same fingers to plug your ears. Or to go click on whatever shitty band you'd rather listen to.
IatB on Facebook.
Comment, we like it.
Friday, April 6, 2012
The Radio Reds are a post-punk band from Greensboro, North Carolina. It's a four piece group that's been playing together for about a year now, starting off as vocalist Stephen Kent's solo project. This EP is going to be released on April 10th (only four days), so I suggest you mark that on your calendar.
This is a super long EP. It's only four tracks, but they still manage to pull out a full 16 minutes. That's impressive. "Lucky Strike," the first track, starts you off with a pretty good impression. It sounds kind of like a grunge/indie blend, and it's pretty good. Stephen Kent has a strong voice, and the instrumentals are solid. It's a slower song, but the guitar melodies are fairly interesting. Patrick Boyd and Kent together (both guitarists) make an interesting play back and forth.
"Disconnected" is a similar song to "Lucky Strike."
"California Snow" actually shows off the bass a little bit (Michael Kent) which I enjoy a lot. The guitar melodies are also pretty interesting. The lyrics are also really great. This track sounds almost like Third Eye Blind and Nirvana had a love child together.
"Bedroom Noise" is a little pop punk-ish. That made me smile. It's much more upbeat than the other three tracks, and it's pretty fun. Overall, it's a pretty good EP.
It makes me think of the nineties. If you liked the nineties, you'll probably like this. And I mean, who didn't?
So, I'm finally getting around to this. I love Say Anything, and I am willing to take any shit I get for reviewing them... So bring it on. Say Anything is an indie/punk/whatever rock band from Los Angeles. They are extremely fun. The line up has hectically changed from duos to full 4-5 member groups in the past 12 years, but Max Bemis and Cody Linder have been in it since the beginning. Say Anything are probably most known for Max, crazy shows, being hated, and changing teenage girl's lives forever. Everyone thinks they're awesome or awful- and I thankfully fall into that first category. Forever catchy, brutally honest, and cutesy- thanks for twelve years of awesome, you guys. Anarchy, My Dear was released on March 13th of this year.
"Burn A Miracle" starts us off with a super fucking catchy beat and very Bemis-esque lyrics. Super descriptive, overflowing with metaphor. The beat itself is very bouncy (dare I say staccato?) and all over the place in the best of the ways. It's a great way to start off the record, seriously.
When you hear Max Bemis talk about the record, he describes this as their first attempt at really writing a "punk" record- mostly in the ideals. I think the music is actually more poppy than we're used to, but when you're saying things like "Burn America if you've gotta soul, burn the dream!" you can definitely hear that mentality.
"Say Anything" is definitely sounding a lot more like what I'm used to with them. It's a seriously great song with interesting guitar riffs and adorable lyrics. It's starts off slow and acoustic, but they build it up into a full band, fast, and demanding sound. It's awesome.
"Night's Song" has the cutest beat ever. It's bouncy, cutesy, you name it. It also displays something that I always look for in their songs- a really interesting melody. Every now and then, they just go all over the place. It switches between instruments and they're almost always doing their own thing. The bass line especially sounds great.
"Admit it Again" is an interesting choice. "Admit It!!!", off of the "...Is a Real Boy" is probably one of their most infamous songs. Let's be honest, most people hated it. It was a great rant, but the execution was a little off. However, Max Bemis picks it up again on this album. The music is a little bit more intricate, the lyrics are a little more in depth, but it's pretty much the same song. Hence the "again."
"So Good" is a really, really cute song. Sherri DuPree is a lucky lady. (You know, besides being really cute and having her own awesome band. That might also contribute to her luckiness.)
"Sheep" is a fairly interesting song. It reminds me a little of the 80s. It's not a bad song; it's just not one of my favorites. I do like the tempo changes, however.
Skipping ahead to one of the real stand-out tracks....
"Anarchy, My Dear" is a fucking AWESOME song. It's one of my favorites. Amazing lyrics, great rock ballad. One of those songs you want to listen to over and over again. I will listen to this song a thousand times.
Overall, I liked this album a lot. I don't think it's their best, but it's impressive and I'm going to listen to it a lot. The sounds vary, but they stay pretty much in the same pop-rock style that they feel most comfortable in. I think Max Bemis did an admirable job with his attempt at changing the mentality and outlook of the band, but let's face it- Max is still Max and his lyrics will always have the same tone. :)
Listen to it, really. If you hate Say Anything, then go listen to your Four Year Strong or whatever.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Grey Area, The Reveling, The Copyrights, and Luther getting together to release a four-way split? Holy shit. Yes. This is the best combination ever. Grey Area is this awesome New York based pop punk band. We fell in love with them on their Go Rydell split, and it's been history since then. It's really upbeat, fun stuff. The Reveling is also from New York, and is a little less poppy and a little more punk. They're awesome. The Copyrights are probably one of the more well-known pop punk bands in the US, coming from Illinois. They're really, REALLY great live. Luther is a pop punk/alt rock band from Philadelphia, and admittedly the band I know the least about.
Okay, let's do this.
Grey Area: "Lucky" is super catchy. It really sounds like Copyrights meets Smoking Popes. The lyrics are pretty great too. I really like the guitar melody. "Bad Anything" is a little faster, and a little rougher. These lyrics are significantly badass. The drums make me happy, too. So far, so good. It's a little fun, a little serious, and both tracks are dance worthy at shows.
Reveling: The Reveling know they have a soft spot in my heart waiting for them, so this part shouldn't be an issue. "Trust Me" is a BADASS song. I love it. The beat is super catchy from the first second, first off. Sean Morris has the best voice and the lyrics are amazing. The lyrics to "It's Time To Ride" are the kind that you want tattooed on your arm or painted on your wall or something. Okay, maybe just written in the corner of your notebook... Either way, I love them. The song is really great. Bravo.
Copyrights: These are pretty standard awesome Copyrights songs. "The New Frontier" and "Straight To The Office" are both fast, hard, and addictive. Make any innuendos about that as you want. I like "Straight to the Office" a lot, cause it's a little more fun than "The New Frontier." Either way, they do a really great job with it. I don't think I've ever heard a Copyrights song that I didn't want to tap my foot/shake my head/etc to.
Luther: For a band I had listened to a handful of times, these guys really impressed me. "Sixty-One" is a wonderful song! I love it. The beat is really catchy and I like the guitar tone a lot. "This Door Is A Penthouse" is just as sad than "Sixty-One." It's still a good song though. They both are. I own Siblings and Sevens, and I'm probably going to start listening to it a whole lot more now.
So my thought process was that four bands = four times as many chances for a song to suck. However, they prevailed and did an amazing job. Kudos.
Here goes the linking spree...
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Great Apes are exactly the kind of band that Idle and the Bear is cut out to review. They're new (or up and coming, or whatever term/phrase you swear by), they play punk music, and they play it damn well. They have kind of a dirtier sound and their songs kind of bring bands like Maladroit, Arms Aloft, and Mayflower to mind for me. Maybe like a slightly slowed down and tighter version of those bands. Slower at times, tighter usually, but definitely with the same amount of energy.
Great Apes have a series of EP's coming out soon, the first of which being the self-titled one that this review happens to be concerning. The EP starts off with a slower number titled "Sam's Song" (for whatever reason, I had a lot of trouble not typing 'Sam's Town' just then). It's very melodic, and the awesome, rough lead vocals are backed by some pretty awesome back ups at various places throughout the song. It's a nice song, but it doesn't bring too much new to the table, nor anything that is at least colorful enough to stand out. It's followed by a song I like quite a bit more, however.
'This is a Trans World' follows the Screeching Weasel derived pop punk formula pretty straight forward. With the level of power used, it comes off almost sounding like a Street Dogs song, or that new melodic punk group that Jay Navarro is singing for these days. It appears to be a song about transgender folk and it being A-okay with Great Apes. That's mighty white of you, Great Apes. We're on the same page. It's a good song. It feels a bit folky even. And the shouting of, "boys will be girls!" at the end is pretty fucking cool. I dig it.
With the third and last song, "Detonator", I feel more reassured in my Street Dogs comparison. The rhythm kind of gives me a 'Let's Go' era Rancid vibe, though. That or basically any song by Buck-O-Nine during the non-ska bits. What "Detonator" succeeds most at is solidifying this 3-song EP as a worthwhile ear-endeavor. The songs are all pretty good, while not really being that great (to me, at least). They definitely sound like a band I could see friends of mine getting into a bit more than me, but that's a compliment. My friends have decent taste. Some of them. Some of them have horrible taste, Billy.
Check out Great Apes! Do it. They have like a facebook and a bandcamp page and everything. They have EPs soon to be released on Say-10 Records, too. And we'll be posting an update when that occurs so you can pick up a physical copy of this cool little record. Until then, you can check out what they have up on their bandcamp. You won't be disappointed.
Check us out on facebook.
Monday, April 2, 2012
The record label Bright & Barrow decided to put on their humanitarian pants recently and put together an awesome compilation full of great punk bands such as Direct Hit!, Goin’ Places, Great Cynics, Candy Hearts, Banquets, Caffiends, and many more. For 15 dollars, your ass gets a 22-song digital compilation, and a really cool t-shirt (photo above). It isn’t just for your ass, either; you can enjoy the music in through your ears and the shirt goes great on your torso. All proceeds of your purchase go to www.unitywalk.org and 100% of that money goes towards Parkinson’s research.
Do your part!
Even if you honestly don’t care too much about researching Parkinson’s, you at least get 22 songs for 15 bucks and the t-shirt is clever. Shit. Sounds worth it to me. Thanks, readers.
IATB on Facebook.